Gourmet Birds
No 1 for Specialist Birdwatching Holidays
Gourmet Birds
Birdwatching Holidays
Forge Cottage,
Bowbeck, Bardwell,
Suffolk IP31 1BA,
Tel. 01359 269657


Gourmet Birds September Newsletter 2008

As I write this itís pouring with rain outside, but thereís a group of young goldfinches on the feeder, a reminder that some birds have had a successful breeding season despite the weather. The weather was far from brilliant on this yearís GB trips, too. It was cool in Spain in March, though we did see several wallcreepers, but it was very pleasant for our visit to Cyprus, where we recorded our best-ever weekís total of a 142 species, beating by one the previous top score set in 1997.

We arrived in Greece in May in torrential rain, leaving a covering of snow on the mountains above our hotel. However, it did cheer up during our week when we had some great birdwatching. Lake Kerkini is certainly one of the most exciting and productive inland sites for birds in Western Europe. Spain in June was remarkably cool, but we missed the extensive floods that swept through the Ebro valley.

Iím currently working hard on next yearís programme: it gets harder every year to find new locations, as we have now visited most European countries. The rise and rise of the Euro is also extremely bad news, as it forces prices up considerably. Even eastern European countries like Estonia have currencies that have appreciated greatly against sterling this year. This time last year a Euro was worth 68p, itís now 82p.

Stone curlews in Suffolk 2008

Following last yearís successful Suffolk break, we are organising another this autumn: arrive in Suffolk on Tuesday 30 September for a two-night stay, with dinner at Forge Cottage on the 30th and the 1st. I will organise outings to Norfolk and Suffolk on the Wednesday and Thursday, and am confident of finding flocks of stone curlews. £235.00 inclusive.


Estonia in March
Next yearís programme is likely to start with a five-day visit to Estonia in late March when our target birds will be Stellerís eiders (this is the only regular European site for these attractive birds south of the arctic), plus woodland grouse (hazel hen, black grouse and capercaillie), owls (Ural, eagle and pygmy), woodpeckers (seven species probable), plus a supporting cast of sea eagles, rough-legged buzzards, waxwings and snow buntings. The price will be around £925, plus Easy Jet flights from Stansted.

Cyprus in April
One of our favourite holidays which we repeat each year, staying in Episkopi at Antonyís Garden House. The probable dates are 22 to the 29 April, and the cost about £850.00, plus flight (expect to pay about £200). Most Cyprus flights depart from Gatwick. Expect lots of spring migrants, warm sunshine and Eleonoraís falcons.

Bulgaria in May
Thereís still good value to be had in Bulgaria, plus some great birdwatching on the Black Sea coast. We will fly with BA to Varna, and use just two different bases during our seven-night stay, involving little internal travel. About £925, plus flights. The probable dates are 7 to the 14 May.

Greece in late May
Our visit to Lake Kerkini in 2008 was a great success, with a delightful hotel and great birdwatching within a short distance of our base. For 2008 Iím running a holiday there for the Hawk & Owl Trust, but thereís certain to be spaces available. Probable dates are 23 to the 28 May (five nights) and the cost around £775 plus flights to Thessalonika with either Easy Jet or British Airways (both from Gatwick).

Further details and firm dates and prices for all these holidays will follow shortly. If you would like to see my past diaries for any of these destinations except Estonia (I havenít been there in March), please ask.


Many of you will have travelled with Pamela Washer, whom Iím sorry to report died in July at the age of 84. Another former GB regular who also died earlier this year was Evelyn Maddock.

For the last 32 years I have led birdwatching courses for the Field Studies Council at Nettlecombe in Somerset. This summerís course was officially the last, as Nettlecombe is no longer offering adult courses.